Rheumatic Heart Disease

This is a condition of heart valves damage caused by rheumatic fever. This may happen after an untreated or under-treated bacterial (Streptococcus) infection which evoke your body’s inflammatory response.

What are the causes for rheumatic heart disease?

  • Heart valve inflammation from rheumatic fever
  • Repeated Streptococcal infections

What are the symptoms of rheumatic heart disease?

Rheumatic heart disease symptoms can take years to show following a streptococcal infection or rheumatic fever. Symptoms of heart damage may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Heart murmur
  • Shortness of breath (especially following an activity or when lying down)
  • Swelling in the stomach, hands, or feet

What are the risk factors for rheumatic heart disease?

  • Having repeated untreated Streptococcal infection
  • Lack of easy access to healthcare or antibiotics
  • Living in overcrowded conditions

How is rheumatic heart disease diagnosed?

  • Evaluation of symptoms and physical examination
  • Medical history
  • Blood tests to check for inflammation
  • Echocardiogram to check for leaky or narrowed heart valves
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Chest X-ray
  • Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

What are the treatment options for rheumatic heart disease?

Generally, there is no cure for rheumatic heart disease. Treatments available may help to manage symptoms and delay further complications, which include:

  • Antibiotics to prevent rheumatic fever
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation
  • Medication to manage an abnormal heartbeat
  • Surgery to replace or repair a damaged valve (in severe cases)

What are the prevention tips for rheumatic heart disease?

Taking antibiotics at the earliest indication of a streptococcal infection can help prevent rheumatic heart disease.


  1. Rheumatic heart disease. Available at https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/rheumatic-heart-disease#: [Accessed on 10 May 2022]
  2. Rheumatic heart disease. Available at https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21485-rheumatic-heart-disease [Accessed on 10 May 2022]
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